The ‘tough’ fight for the next AFL broadcast rights is officially over with Seven West Media confirming it will remain the home of Australian rules football until at least the end of 2031.
Seven West Media has signed the historic deal – hailed by AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan as ‘the biggest in Australian sport’ – to retain the broadcast rights that will keep the AFL live on the free television, and also to include an expanded digital offer.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: AFL chairman Richard Goyder explains the true value of the deal
Analysis, local football and the greatest moments, Seven and 7plus are the home of football shows for all fans. Stream them all for free on 7plus >>
Under the new deal, the 7Plus AFL hub will offer live matches and replays, as well as catch-up rights and on-demand highlights packages (available live and free on any device at any time) ).
It was a fierce battle for the AFL rights with Network Ten and its streaming partner Paramount Plus, Nine Entertainment and its streaming partner Stan, and the existing arrangement of Seven and Foxtel all making good arguments.
On Monday, it was reported that Nine had upped the ante with an offer of nearly $500 million a year.
But that offer was quickly overturned by Seven West Media and Foxtel with a superior pitch that the AFL pounced on.
On Saturday night at the thrilling final between Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs in Perth, Seven West chairman Kerry Stokes and McLachlan were spotted together enjoying the game.
Mr Stokes said he was delighted to continue the relationship with the AFL and now every city has access to free-to-air football.
He said one of the reasons Seven’s partnership with the AFL had been so successful over the years was due to the shared love of the game.
SWM chief executive and managing director James Warburton said it was an uphill battle to get the rights, but it was money well spent.
“I think we look at the whole package…and consider it a domestic game. [and] you put all of these pieces together and, quite simply, it’s probably the most important content money can buy,” he said.
“So we put a structure in place, an agreement that works for the AFL and also with Foxtel and we were able to get [a deal that] was incredibly tough with all the competition… there was quite a bit of difficulty (in the battle for the rights).
He said the toughness depends on which newspaper you read, but Seven didn’t blame the AFL for going into the market and understood the AFL’s rationale.
“At the end of the day, we did our best and put in enough,” Warburton said.
McLachlan said Thursday night and Friday night matches would be live and free on Seven, and all Marquesses matches would also be live and free, including the Anzac Day match, Dreamtime at ‘G, the final and the grand finale. The Brownlow Medal will also be on Seven.
He said the deal would also help make gaming affordable and keep ticket prices low.
“You have all been incredible partners,” McLachlan said while once again thanking Mr Stokes for his support.
“We know the free coverage is unprecedented and will stay the same,” he said.
“We are moving some games from Saturday to Thursday. I think people understand that we are becoming more and more digital. People’s viewing habits are changing.
“We need to look at our deal and think about what our partners want, where it’s going and our ability to monetize this and that and other areas.
“This is an extraordinary deal that serves every person in Australia…for every game. There is no broadcast deal in the world, forget the money, in terms of service [that matches this one].”
AFL chairman Richard Goyder said it was a “great day for Australian rules football” and the new deal would help the League invest in the game, particularly at grassroots level.
Seven has been the AFL’s free-to-air broadcast partner for virtually every year of the competition.